Brand, the Missing Piece – What Founders Need to Know About Brand Building

So you're building an NFT project, DAO, company, or other "project?" Here's what you need to know

Written by
Shyne Webster
Published on

NFT projects. Startups. Agencies. DAOs. All of these “projects” you might be starting are really brands. If you want to sell out your NFT collection, the artwork isn’t enough (we’ve seen this happen several times already.) If you want people to contribute consistently for a long period of time in a DAO, it’s not enough to have a lot of followers on Twitter and a vibey aesthetic. If you want people to invest in your product, no amount of features is going to make them care about something that doesn’t matter.

I’ve seen it happen so many times – you spend months or even years developing something, and when you finally launch it, it underperforms for one reason: nobody understands what it does or why they should value it. You hire designers to build out this gorgeous website with cool animations and gradients, you get a bunch of hype on socials, and then boom. Crickets. No signups, downloads, or dollars. (Or at least not what you expected.)

The truth is, founder friend: selling product [or service] is a rat race that'll keep you hustling to prove your offerings's worthiness to every customer that walks through the digital door. But there's another way. Don't believe me? Look at Supreme, Nike, and Tesla. Their products are notoriously either bad quality or exceedingly average. I know you've heard this a thousand times, but those companies aren't selling you a product, not really, they're selling you a BRAND. They're selling you a belief, an image, a status, a lifestyle, a set of values, a vision. When you have those, when you have a strong, compelling brand, you don't really have to sell product. If you get people to rally around you brand, they'll buy the product. And the next one. And the next one. And they'll tell allllll their friends about it, too, so you barely even have to shill your own stuff! (That's called brand evangelism.)

So, how do you fix the problem?

  1. By knowing your ideal consumer - what matters to them, how they think, what motivates them, how your thing impacts their life
  2. By knowing your brand - what you stand for, how you want people to feel, what you want people to believe about you, how you’re different from others in your market
  3. By knowing what to say about your brand - what’s most important, what people always need to know about you in any interaction, a deeper message than just features
  4. By knowing how to say it effectively - how to say the above info in a way that resonates with your ideal consumer, how to move consumers through the buyer journey with content, how to share your value concisely in a way anyone can understand

When you know exactly what to say, who you’re talking to, and how to communicate with them specifically, everything else is 100x easier. You know what content to market with. You know what the web copy should say. You know what to write in your pitch deck. You know what to put on the packaging. You know what to say in emails to potential collaborators. You know how the business should operate. You know how to impact your people.

Clarity breeds confidence. Confidence breeds consistency. Consistency breeds culture. Culture breeds community.

So, whether you’re a founder of a DAO, NFT project, or company, the common denominator remains: you need to build your brand. You need to have a vision, a purpose, a reason for people to care – you need to have substance. That’s what brand is all about.

Everybody wants a loyal community (in web2, it was a community of fans; in web3, it’s a community of contributors), but hardly anybody is willing to do the work it takes to build something worth being loyal to.

The projects and businesses that become blue chips, or household names, or that actually last across generations are all developed brands. They’re a way of life, they’re a mentality people can adopt and embody, they impact people’s identity and sense of self. 

It has to go beyond the surface. Mere products are shallow. Anyone can design a product. There has to be meaning and a message and something for people to actually care about. If you can’t see past the noise (i.e. the cool graphics, the demand for funnier tweets, the rat race to grow a Discord server, the popularity contest of raising funding, the conferences and Partiful invites) to focus on cultivating what really matters first, you’ll be forever unable to build a sustainable business or ecosystem. People will leave when circumstances aren’t ideal, or worse, they might never even buy or join at all.

The real problem is that, as a founder, you’re so close, so “heads down” working-on-this-thing-you-care-about that you can’t step back far enough to discern WHAT to say or HOW to communicate it at all. Building something is like being inside a water bottle. You can kind of see the outside label, but not enough. You’re so far into your project or business that your water bottle label isn’t clear to you. You don’t know which pieces of information are most important to your consumer because, to you, they’re all important (or honestly just all jumbled together.) Like, how do you even separate the features from the benefits from the aesthetic from the positioning from the…ugh. It’s just too much, too close.

Which is where Designed by Shyne comes in. My job is literally to be that third party, that new perspective to step into your consumer’s shoes and advocate for them and craft your brand experience for them in a way that feels true to your vision. I take your jumbled brain dump and turn it into clear messaging and beautiful copy. I take all the features and talking points and sort out what’s make-or-break from what’s optional. I help you organize it and make sense of it all to lead your people through their hero’s journey with you. You don’t have to work with me, but you do have to build a brand if you want what you’re building to last. It’s just easier with help.

If this resonates but you don’t know where to start, check out our free brand building guide (it’s a bite-sized version of the exact process Shyne uses with our clients!) Or, if you’re ready to go all in on cultivating your brand’s culture and community, reach out to discuss how we can serve you!

P.S. thanks for reading! My love language is words of affirmation, so if this helped you, please send me an email or DM on Twitter to let me know!

P.P.S. we're always open to gifts/donations if you'd like to support more of these educational endeavors. Feel free to buy me a coffee :)

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